I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to trust yourself. I have had a roller-coaster relationship with this concept, personally. This is my current thought process, this may be a little more stream of consciousness than usual:
What does it mean to trust yourself?
Well, what does it mean to trust someone else?
They show up consistently. You value them. You have faith in them. You believe in them. You can count on them.
The dictionary defines trust as: to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.
Hmm okay, so if we were to doubt someone else as we doubt ourselves, would they trust us? Probably not…
If you told a friend that they better not mess up in front of everyone on stage because people in the audience will judge them, they probably wouldn’t be your friend for very long.
When we put ourselves down after an audition we didn’t advance in or a competition we didn’t win, we are losing trust in ourselves. If we had a teacher who did that, we’d likely have our trust broken with them. The way we treat ourselves matters because what we are afraid of in the end is always just an emotion. We’re afraid to feel disappointment, inadequacy, etc.
When we say things to ourselves or make the outcome of an audition mean we aren’t good enough, we’re not doing enough, etc. instead of helping ourselves through these emotions, we are losing trust in ourselves.
That torturous voice of criticism used to be so loud in my mind that I couldn’t sit by myself and just do nothing. I couldn’t be alone in my own head. I always had a podcast on, or music, or something to distract me. I didn’t want mental clarity because I was afraid of my own thoughts.
The first piece of this is knowing that your brain comes up with thoughts functionally, it actively fights against what it thinks will cause you emotional pain (in this case putting yourself out there in an audition or performance). It will doubt you relentlessly for survival. If you doubt yourself enough, you won’t fully commit. So, how do you get out of this?
You don’t have to believe the thoughts you think.
Stick with me. You’ll probably have some gnarly thoughts come up, self-critical thoughts, really hurtful thoughts. They might cause some negative emotions. But you have the ability to commit to not believing them. Observe them when they come up, notice when they usually come up.
You can also decide how you’ll treat yourself if/when you don’t get your desired outcome. What we are afraid of most is feeling inadequate after an audition. But since your thoughts create your emotions, you have a choice about whether you want to believe that voice in your head. You get to decide to treat yourself with kindness and grace.
Your mind and body will internalize how you treat yourself. If you beat yourself up after you don’t win an audition, that is emotionally painful. Your brain will want to avoid that experience again at all costs, which actively works against your goals if you want to win an audition.
This can be practiced in your practice room. When you don’t feel like practicing, do you use kindness to help yourself through? Or, do you try to scare yourself into practicing by telling yourself you aren’t good enough? Which voice would you trust?
Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have. How you treat yourself matters because it creates the emotions you feel. We may pretend we don’t feel emotions from our own thoughts, but that’s usually when we have distracted ourselves into oblivion. We become numb, disengaged from our present, we’re just trying to get through.
Treat yourself how you’d want others to treat you, with care, with love, with warmth. That builds trust. If you know you’ll be loving to yourself on the other side of an audition, you’ll feel free to fully commit and prepare, leaving no stone left unturned.
Sometimes we don’t practice to our full capacity because we want a little room to excuse our “failure.” We want there to be a reason we didn’t succeed. But if we can accept that someone didn’t choose us at the end of the day, with no excuses, and still treat ourselves well. We not only play to our best capacity, but we also build that trust with ourselves.
Let’s talk about practicing this…
When you practice, are you doing it for you?
This is one of the best questions I’ve come up with (toots own horn). What I mean by this is, are you practicing so you can really get comfortable with difficult passages so YOU can feel better and more confident? OR are you just practicing to get it done, and get it right?
This is the difference between having your own back, and not treating yourself very well. Practicing so your future self can reap the benefits is so rewarding! Practicing so your subconscious and body feel natural producing that very hard passage, so there’s no question that in the performance you’re going to be able to nail it.
Practicing in a way that is encouraging with a “building” mindset instead of a “fixing” mindset. If you haven’t read my blog post “Building vs. Fixing” I would run not walk to find out about this concept (toots own horn again).
Be deliberate about practice room habits that serve your long-term goals, not short-term urges. Ex. Is your phone on “do not disturb”?? Are you moving on just because you’re frustrated and judgmental?
These urges to distract or look at the phone usually come from negative self-talk that creates frustration. You look at your phone because you don’t want to feel the frustration. All we do all day long is try to avoid negative emotions. This action (that thing you have the urge to do) is called buffering. You put a buffer between you and your negative emotion. Buffering is when you do something that has a net negative effect. It’s a false pleasure.
When we build a relationship with our future selves, say you’re in your lesson and this past week self really didn’t get it done. They probably didn’t see the practice through or didn’t dig deep into the harmony of the piece they were working on or any number of things, basically, they just didn’t show up to their potential. Now, current-you is in your lesson thinking past-you is totally the WORST, thus ruining any trust you may have built.
Trusting one’s self is like trusting anyone else, and acknowledging that you have a relationship with yourself is such a huge step. How we treat ourselves dictates our emotions. If we are terrible to ourselves, we will probably feel terrible all the time. Building a relationship not only with your current self but your future self is so important. This is really how you have your own back.
P.S. If you want help building trust with yourself, I've got your back until you can have your own. That's my job as a mindset coach. If you're interested in this work and taking it further, let's hop on a consultation call! They're free, they're an hour on Zoom. We talk about where you are and where you want to be, then we talk about how it is 100% possible for you to get there. Click the button below to schedule a call!